Friday, June 22, 2018

On Dangerous Ground: Film Noir Poetry- Dark Passage, Decoy.

“Ontology! I’m just
  telling you a story
  about this projector, that’s all.”

                  Edward Dorn, Gunslinger, Book II

Dark Passage (Delmar Daves, 1946)

It's never easy, clocking the world, driving 
the back roads and waterfront. Yesterday's 
headlines now obsessive scrapbook fodder. 
Together they watch for cops, nosey citizens 
and night-time denizens. Bandages, undone, 
his face, that voice, going back to just prior. 
The fall, the money and six year sentence, 
their words falling like Fortian frogs through 
the fog. Then, what if, small bar in Mexico
Walking through the door, sunshine framing 
her to faded perfection. If only his paranoia 
would subside. But innocence is invariably 
tricky, proof "on the other side," hardly enough. 
Her inherited wealth, Count Basie and a Nob 
Hill apartment no more than coming attraction. 
The writer sitting at his desk, staring at blank 
page, disgusted with its whiteness, yearning for 
tough mamas and after-hours on the Avenue
Nmater that Philly is written across series 
of comic asides, shoddy sofas and cheap hotels. 
If not for second-rate pulpsters and their spit-
balling brethren, where would we be? Ping-
pong with Henry Miller. Insisting he was no 
Dashiell Hammett, this no Maltese Falcon. 
Instead: those paperbacks, that law suit, and 
camera-eye that tells only half the story.

Decoy (Jack Bernhard, 1946)

Doctor, dazed, rushes in, washes 
his hands, hears shots. Margot to 
Sergeant Portugal: it was love...
Then the gas chamber riff. What 
a ruse, what a whiff, scarpering 
with the money. Quick, get me a 
doctor, with a cyanide anecdote
about antidotes. In other words, 
resuscitation by proclamation. 
Kisses Margot, a fatale if there 
ever was one, and gets shot for his 
pains, their problem and her plan. 
"Do you think you could  fix that 
flat-tire for me while I discretely 
run you over, make that times two, 
before driving off with your heart 
in my hand?" On that impervious 
road to nowhere. What nerve, 
laughing at the doctor, gold 
digging 'till the cows come home. 
Then down shifting to the present. 
"Hey, Portugal, didn't we meet 
somewhere just this side of wrong?
But think: autonomy is just a word, 
so near yet so far. Her words eating
into him like acid rain, saying, 
"Try coming down to my level, for 
once." Less compromise than 
fatal kiss before laughing in his 
face. How can anyone not love this 
woman? Who derives such pleasure 
from the corruptions of empire.

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